California’s Lawsuit against Schools Failing to Teach Kids to Read
Public Counsel, an advocacy law firm based in Los Angeles with offices in Monterey Park and Berkeley, has filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, blaming the state education system for failing to teach kids enrolled in public schools to read. The complaint blames the state for not doing enough to improve the education system, to train the teachers and to provide the resources necessary to help kids attain basic literacy. The lawsuit also cites that students with disabilities and kids of color, especially from the underserved families, are not being paid enough attention to. As a result, California is faring poorly in writing and reading.
The complaint highlights the need to have a plan and all necessary resources to help all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background and whether they have disabilities, to learn to read and write in English. The complaint was filed against the state because the problem is not confined to any one school or any specific district. The problem is a statewide epidemic spanning several districts.
In a nationwide reading assessment conducted for fourth graders and eighth graders by the United States Department of Education, the students in the state have been found lacking the basic reading and writing skills. The state scores much below the national average. This is not surprising as the superintendent of the state and the president of the state board for education had commissioned report five years back that came up with recommendations to improve basic literacy among students, especially those who are not native English speakers and have trouble learning. No action was taken thereon, and the recommendations have only existed on paper.
According to the data available from the recently conducted English assessment program across the state, more than half of all students reviewed failed to meet the literacy standards set by the state for their grade. While there are many alarming revelations in the report, a few are shocking. At La Salle Elementary School that falls in the Los Angeles Unified School District, a hundred and seventy-nine students were assessed and fewer than ten met the state standards of reading and writing in English. Van Buren Elementary School in Stockton fared marginally better, but the scenario was still dire. Fewer than seven out of every hundred students met or exceeded the standards. Eleven out of hundred kids at Children of Promise Preparatory Academy in Inglewood met or exceeded the standards.
There is a crisis in the state. Some schools don’t have teachers who are adequately trained or equipped to impart basic education. The state as a whole has a majority of students in elementary and middle schools who cannot properly read or write in English. The state has no response to the alarming deterioration in the public education system. This is not a recent development. As lawyer Mark Rosenbaum of Public Counsel has said on record, the problem has been persistent for years and no step has been taken to improve the education system.